Tag Archives: addiction recovery

Defeating Urges Using the DISARM Tool

Posted on December 5, 2017

DISARMing the Trickster
By Yvan Roy

A workshop I designed suggests how to use the SMART tool DISARM – Destructive Imagery and Self-talk Awareness and Refusal Method – at a meeting or on your own.


1. Develop the Framework – Externalize the Addiction

Talk about how the addiction has come to dominate the participants’ lives and led them to believe that it is much stronger than they are – in fact, serving as addiction’s core strategy for domination. Doing this begins to externalize the addiction. Discuss the relationship that participants have with their addiction.

Personify or name the addiction / the enemy – Take some time to name the enemy, perhaps with a drawing to further externalize the addition. For example, let’s use the Trickster.


2. Track the Influence of the Addiction / Enemy

Describing their relationship, participants can include:

• The Trickster’s influence on their life, such as their health, work, school, finances, relationships, and relationship with themselves (self-worth, confidence, self-esteem).
• The Trickster’s intention for their life going forward into the future.
• The Trickster’s strategies for dominating their life.

Questions to draw out this information

What does the Trickster make you believe about your addiction that prevents you from moving forward?

How did the Trickster take control of your life?

What is the Trickster getting you to do that goes against your better intentions?
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Relapse prevention, recovery management, recovery transcendence

Posted on November 28, 2017

A guest post by William L. White

I have tremendous respect for the work Dr. Alan Marlatt, Dr. Dennis Daley, Terrence Gorski, and others have done pioneering the field of relapse prevention (RP), but I have always been troubled by the relapse language and making RP a focal point in addiction treatment. My concern is threefold. First, the lapse/relapse language is drawn from moral rather than medical discourse and drips with centuries of stigma and contempt that have long been heaped on people experiencing alcohol and other drug-related problems (see earlier blog). Second, characterizing all AOD problems and related disorders as “chronically relapsing” misrepresents the natural course of such problems (grossly underestimating recovery stability and durability) in a way that increases personal, therapeutic, and cultural pessimism regarding the potential resolution of such conditions (see earlier blog). Third, and the focus of the present essay, the RP lens risks inadvertently casting personal and professional attention on deficits and vulnerabilities rather than assets and casting one’s vision backward (to the potential for resurging pathology) rather than forward (toward a flourishing and meaningful recovery). The image is one of running from something (the beast/dragon images often come to mind) rather than being positively drawn toward something of great value of one’s own choosing.

A lens of recovery management (or recovery enhancement) (RM) has advantages not achieved by the RP framework. The RM shift might be cast as “recovering from” to “recovering to,” with the potential for a process of discovery that transcends the recovery experience—a journey traversing from, to, and beyond. The prepositions here are important. We should build on what has been learned within relapse prevention research and practice while focusing on what makes us come alive rather than on what we most fear. At its most practical level, RP and RM are distinguished by a focus on what is not wanted versus what is desired, Continue reading

Celebrate the Holidays Safely, Comfortably, Joyously

Posted on November 21, 2017

Celebrating the Holidays with Recovering Family Members and Friends
Peter Gaumond, Chief, ONDCP Recovery Branch

Holidays in RecoveryThis time each year can be stressful for anyone, but the holidays present a special challenge for people recovering from a substance use disorder. Those in long-term recovery typically are adept at navigating the minefield of temptation at holiday social gatherings. But many of those in their first year of recovery, their friends, and family members wonder how best to celebrate the holidays safely, comfortably, and joyously.

If your festivities will include someone with a year or more in recovery, you may simply want to ask if there is anything you can do to make the holiday better for them. They may want to bring a friend who’s also in recovery. They may have beverage preferences or want the flexibility to step out for a short while, either to attend a mutual aid meeting (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or SMART Recovery), make a call, or Continue reading

How to improve your sleep while in addiction recovery

Posted on November 14, 2017

Sleep disorders are a common struggle in recovery from addiction

Guest blogger, Alisa, Nestmaven.com

According to a study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the incidence of insomnia is five times higher in early recovery than in the general population. Insomnia is not the only sleep disorder associated with addiction; contribute to the development of circadian rhythm disorders, parasomnias and sleep apnea.

The relationship between sleep and addiction goes both ways: while the mechanisms of addiction and withdrawal cause sleep disorders, the resulting sleep deprivation can inhibit the recovery process. The consequences of sleep deprivation include low mood, impulsivity, and poor emotional regulation which increase the likelihood of relapse.

The SMART Recovery approach can be used to identify areas in your life where you are lacking balance. If you are experiencing sleep issues while recovering from an addiction, making changes in your lifestyle and environment can dramatically improve your symptoms.

Light Exposure

Light is the most powerful cue for our circadian rhythms which are responsible for guiding the sleep-wake schedule.

Timing light exposure for the correct times of day, while avoiding unnecessary light sources as bedtime approaches. Basking in light — especially sunlight — first thing after waking up can help combat sleep inertia; while dimming house lights in the evening signals that it’s time to start winding down for sleep.

Blue light is emitted by electronic device screens (including computers, laptops and smartphones) and is responsible for blocking the release of the sleep hormone melatonin. These devices should be avoided at night, and, when their use is necessary, nightmode should be activated.

Light Therapy is used to treat circadian rhythm disorders and insomnia, the two disorders with the highest incidence in recovery. Light therapy is also a useful tool in treating the depression which frequently occurs alongside drug addiction.

Diet

Diet, while an important part of any healthy lifestyle, lends additional benefits to those struggling with sleep disorders.

Foods that inhibit sleep include those high in sugar and refined fats, as well as spicy foods and chocolate depending on its caffeine content. People suffering from sleep disorders should avoid these foods, particularly after midday.

Foods that promote sleep do so by either inducing drowsiness or through inducing muscle relaxation to relieve discomfort. Experts recommend natural sources of magnesium, potassium and B vitamins such as legumes and leafy green vegetables. Dairy products and animal proteins contain tryptophan — a precursor to the neurochemicals serotonin and melatonin which are essential to sleep.

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Book Review: Alex Korb’s The Upward Spiral

Posted on November 7, 2017

Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2015, 225 pp.

Review by Ted Alston, facilitator

Bad feelings and bad habits fly together, and evasive maneuvers for one may serve for both. Accordingly, students of SMART Recovery may enjoy this book that addresses depression. Alex Korb, PhD, is an expert on neurotransmission, but he presents a model permitting self-management and and self-empowerment to have roles in mental health. In this model. a prescriber might help someone with a medication molecule that modulates neurotransmission, but readers have the power to choose other reasonable tactics that are non-pharmacological but have neurotransmission aspects.

Korb puts forth the important and attractive concept that neuroscience does not doom anyone to depression or addiction, nor to various other conditions with labels. He emphasizes that we all have pretty much the same instrument of thought and behavior. Whatever genetic or experiential differences may be, the troubled brain is usually out of tune rather than defective. Korb has a gift for analogy, and I do not want to spoil the encounters of his readers with those gems, but I will mention one. I liked when he said, “There’s nothing wrong with your brain, just like there’s nothing wrong with the air in Oklahoma–despite the devastating tornados.” This excerpted quote might seem inscrutable, but Korb’s full argument is easy to follow.

Korb offers much advice that is in line with the philosophies of SMART tools. For instance, a section of Chapter 2 is subtitled “The ABCs of Anxiety.” The Korb ABC is different from that of Albert Ellis, but it rhymes. One could delete all of the neuroscience from the Korb book and be left with a practical and reasonable pamphlet collating many SMART concepts. However, Korb offers a lot more than that. His every point includes a rationale based on what is known about neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. The book is intended for a broad audience, so the science depth is limited. However, the work is a superb introduction to neuroscience. Even a professional neuroscientist might appreciate the book for Korb’s power of explication. Continue reading

The REBT Opp, a Useful Abbreviation

Posted on October 24, 2017

Author: Ted, SMART Recovery Volunteer Meeting Facilitator

Bringing SMART Recovery into state prisons has rewards but also poses bureaucratic challenges. Difficulties in regularly covering a Tuesday afternoon meeting in Massachusetts prompted the recruitment of a third volunteer facilitator. With obstacles, the new volunteer was able to schedule an in-person orientation class that was required but was officially offered at erratic and infrequent intervals. This volunteer traveled many miles to show up for a SMART meeting a week later. He got to the door and was denied admission because he was not yet “in the computer.” (Of course, the delinquent cyber entry happened a few hours later, after the group meeting.)

When the new volunteer was denied entry after his paperwork, classwork, and travel, the three of us looked briefly at each other. All that was said was, “Well, an REBT opportunity.”

With practice, it is often effective to quickly recognize that many potential frustrations are “just REBT opps.”

The phrase said a lot. It seemed to say it all. As SMART facilitators, we had absorbed the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) concepts Continue reading